A CURB IN EDEN by Joseph Enzweiler

A CURB IN EDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A look at teen love and a father’s death by Enzweiler, an Ohio native and worker (carpenter, stone mason, and photographer) who moved to Alaska in 1975, built a cabin, and learned that he could only go home again in poetic dreams. The 18 free-verse poems collected here are simply titled (“The Kiss,” “Freedom”) and at times seem more like prose than poetry: “In the end I do not care who sees / and who is seen. We are creators / of one another or we live and die alone.” The speaker's desire to celebrate and maintain the feelings of first love (even when the loved one has long since moved on) is less convincing than the sketching of a complex father-son relationship marked by gratitude (“I fell asleep in the ships of your stories”), affection, and separation. Lines that shine are those that shift suddenly from commonplace observation to metaphor: “Loss is part of wealth as is abundance. / It is an old story, how we search for both / all our lives, the ragged tear / and a thread to close it.” The book's title is taken from “The Dream House,” the long poem that closes the book, lamenting “That we hold nothing / as it is” and dreaming again of his youthful lover: “You pass again that curb in Eden / and smile, and I am always turning / to see you in the moving sky.” Unfortunately bathetic lines follow here, with similar ones elsewhere, about how he stood with “new clothes in the mud of innocence.”

A personal scrapbook with some sharp turns of phrase.

Pub Date: April 17th, 2000
ISBN: 1-897648-49-9
Page count: 44pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2000